The Commission has since 1993 promoted and supported the process of technical standardisation in the postal sector through mandates to the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN).
The Postal Directive recognises the vital role standardisation plays for the benefit of postal customers, by developing independent and reliable methods which enjoy consensus from all stakeholders. In particular, postal standardisation is focused in two areas:
- Harmonisation of technical methods at Community level within the universal service, in particular for external measurement of quality of service performance.
- Facilitation of interoperability of postal industry stakeholders along the postal value chain.
A dedicated CEN Technical Committee (TC/331) is working on defining European Standards for postal services. The standards adopted by this Committee are then published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ 05.02.2005; C 30, page 3). Most of the standards adopted by the CEN are subject to voluntary implementation. In specific cases, the Postal Directive requires the use of European technical standards, for example by requiring Member States to ensure that the quality of service is measured under standardised conditions.
Based on the progress achieved within the first mandate (M/240) for postal services, a new CEN mandate (M/312) was issued by the Commission in 2001. This mandate allows European harmonisation of technical standards to be continued for postal services, as required by the postal Directive.
It is important to note that the CEN TC/331 takes into account the measures adopted at international level, and in particular those decided upon within the Universal Postal Union(UPU). The co-operation between UPU and CEN, which has been taking place along the years, was reinforced by the signature of a Memorandum Of Understanding between both organisations in 2001.